Lake Wylie park planner pitches for school district support

news@lakewyliepilot.comJune 25, 2013 

— The Clover School District has been asked to help make the Crowders Creek park in Lake Wylie happen.

Tom Smith, a former York County councilmen who served from 2007-10 and has been working on the park plan since, asked members of the Clover School District Board of Trustees during the June 17 meeting to consider supporting the plan by offering to help with maintenance.

“Could there be a partnership for three to five years with the district until it’s self sustaining?” Smith asked, explaining after that time, the park should generate enough revenue to support itself.

He said the district should expect maintenance to cost about $250,000 a year for the first three years. The number should begin to drop as activities with league tournaments come to play, and by six years, “the hospitality tax should kick in.”

The cost, Smith explained, is based on estimates provided by the town of Clover for maintaining fields factoring in other costs.

Board member Frank Pendleton asked for clarity about the extent of maintenance the district would be looking at.

“It includes seeding, cleanup after games, machinery, all of it,” Smith said.

Smith said a likely scenario is Lake Wylie Athletic Association will use the fields Monday through Thursday and weekends would be tournament play.

“If you guys feel positive about it as a group, the revenue would come back to the school district for maintenance,” he said.

Although Smith would like to hear back as soon as possible, he asked the board to respond within 30 days.

“We all know it’s needed and are interested in seeing it move forward,” said board chairman Mack McCarter.

Smith, who has coached for many years in Clover, said “we just don’t have any facilities and Clover has been strapped with having to take it on.”

That includes the school district.

“We talked about shared use and the talk has continued,” said Superintendent Dr. Marc Sosne, referring to Smith’s time on the council.

While park planners have more than 50 acres, plus 18 more near the pump station, they are working to secure the block between the two properties from York Forever to make it 100 acres, Smith said.

Keck & Wood Inc., hired by the county, is conducting a feasibility study. Smith estimates a price tag for the park if modeled after Martha Rivers Park in Gastonia, N.C., will cost about $5.2-$6 million.

Smith said since District 2 has brought in about $1.9 million of the hospitality tax started in 2007, or more than $415,000 a year, “we deserve what we put in.” Smith is reluctant to request another special tax for recreation on top of the already voter passed and implemented special fire district tax. He, along with former councilman Perry Johnston and now seated Bruce Henderson, say Council should put hospitality tax money aside for the park.

“It means more than tourism,” Smith said of the park, “but also business,” perhaps hotels in the area for overnight guests.

“Still one thing we’re lacking is help with maintenance,” said Smith, who also offered the school district room on the property for the possibility of a future elementary school.

He also offered other options in the plan, which currently includes three baseball and three soccer fields, along with concession facilities and parking. A possible natatorium that could be located on land on the other side of Crowders Creek Elementary School could be used for the schools and include adding two more soccer fields for younger children to use, “yet on weekends be used for tournaments.”

Another option, Smith said, would be a full-blown recreational concept that could include a green corridor and possible metro park on Pharr Yarns area property along the lake.

“Now, it would be 300 acres reaching toward Clover,” he said.

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